Lots of steps today! I walked with an Aussie and a guy from Holland up about 1,700m worth of stone steps up to the village of Ghorepani "Horse Water". It was beautiful, we walked through mystical rhodedendron forests up and up and finally got to Ghorepani. Pancha and I went on a mission for momo's, Nepali dumplings and got some really great potato vegetable ones! Yum! Spent the night in the same tea house as an older Spanish couple I had been hiking with on and off, they are so nice and it is great to speak Spanish from Spain!
Day 16 -- Ghorepani to Gandruk
Today we woke up at 4am to hike an hour up to Poon Hill, the go-to site for watching the sunrise over the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri Mountains. It was breathtaking and very cold, but luckily and not surprisingly there was a tea stand up there so we got some hot drinks!
I really like Gandruk, it is a Gorkha village--they are supposed to be the bravest and toughest fighters in the world. It was nice because there were lots of stone trails criss-crossing all over the mountainside instead of just one path through town. Pancha and I visited the Gorkha museum and saw all kinds of tools they used to use, and still do!
We also saw monkeys today in the forest! We had a great time making noises at them and watching them leap through the trees. They can jump so far, it's crazy!Day 17 -- Gandruk to Pothana
Pothana is one of my favorite villages. I had so much fun there! We had an epic hike up super steep steps all day, lots of sweating in the rainforest and rice paddies, but it was worth it. We can even see Pokhara from the village, which makes me excited and also sad that this trek is almost over.
Luckily we went out with a bang. I was wandering the one path through town and heard a lot of creaking through the tall, thin pine trees around the village. There was a huge wooden 4-person "ferris wheel" contraption that two guys were playing on, swinging back and forth! I was super excited! I was staring open-mouthed with a gleam in my eye when one of the women in the village asked if I wanted to try it. I said "YES!" and before I knew it half the village was around the thing and I was sitting on a piece of wood like a swing attached to the frame.
Pancha climbed on top, really precariously, to the seat directly above me, then a man on each side used their legs to turn the frame and people got on the other two seats. They stood on the supporting logs and pushed the frame around with their feet and one kid pulled the edge of the seat towards the ground as each one passed by to gain momentum. We really got going! They told me to "Please hang on tight because it would not be good if you rolled off." So I did and whirled around and around! It was great fun!
That led to lots of gymnastics in the grass and later, after dinner, they taught me how to dance like a Nepali that night! We all had a raksi, the local rice wine, and then blaring hindi music came pounding out of the casette player in the tea house's dining area. We got up and danced, mostly just Pancha, one other guide and me. But one of the Nepali girls did a really cool dance as everyone sang, and another couple danced for a bit. It was so much fun! What a great finish to the trek.
Day 18 -- Pothana to Pokhara
A mellow hike down lots of steps through rice paddies led us to Phedi, where Pancha and I caught the bus to Pokhara. I met up with Eltjo, the guy from Holland and also Lex from High Camp by the lake, so we wandered around and visited an orphanage that was really cool and very well run. Check it out and go volunteer or make a donation, they really do great things for over 70 children! http://www.orphanagenepal.org/pokhara.php
Back to the world of cars, motorbikes and lots of vendors hawking items to tourists by a gorgeous lake, Phewa, with the Annapurna Mountains keeping everything under their watch.